By Victoria Ungvarsky
At first glance, the Black Box Theater feels tight: an oversized sofa, a coffee table and a bookshelf dominate the confined space. But once the actors in Brave Potato Productions’ In a Forest, Dark and Deep begin performing, the stage invites the audience in to experience the power and emotional turmoil that encompass this intense drama.
Written by renowned playwright Neil LaBute, In a Forest tells the story of the strained relationship between a brother and a sister, Bobby and Betty, as they unite to pack up boxes in Betty’s cabin. Although Betty seems to have her life together and is now the dean of a local college, she had a tumultuous past, which created a rift within their family. Bobby, the younger sibling, watched the dissolution of his family and internalized the drama. This 100-minute one-act explores the tension between these two siblings packing up boxes in Betty’s house ﾗ a mysterious home that no one knew she owned.
The process of creating In a Forest began when Stage Manager Marta Hamilton ’14 saw the London premiere in 2011 and loved it. Director Perry Minella ’14 purchased a copy of the play and knew she wanted to submit it to Brave Potato. “I find the play compelling because, at the base of it is this brother-sister relationship,” Minella said. “And I think that everyone in the show has at least one sibling. So the rehearsal process is constantly like ﾑwhy did he do this’ and we’re like ﾑyou have had that fight with your brother.'”
With an enthusiastic stage manager and director and a strong cast, this production would appear to be relatively simple to pull together. However, finding rehearsal times has been difficult. “We are all sort of in two to four different shows,” Minella said. “So we’ve been rehearsing at odd times. Like during lunch in Peirce. Whenever we can to fit it in.”
Minella is particularly impressed with the caliber of her actors. She adopts a more organic directing style: giving the actors fundamental direction and then letting them explore the impulses of their characters. Both Robbie Sellers ’14 and Rosie Ouellet ’15, Bobby and Betty respectively, have put in a lot of time and effort to make this show successful. So has the ever-diligent Hamilton.
“Marta is a really great stage manager to have. She’s been doing this since freshman year. She does exactly what I need her to do, before I need her to do it,” Sellers said.
After the week-long Thanksgiving break, the cast and crew of In a Forest will return for tech week before the show opens the weekend of Dec. 6. The show may not be what most Kenyon students associate with Brave Potato. The group is most known for their fun, quirky shows such as the Cancelled cabaret two weekends ago, which made light of their cancelled production of Pippin.
This show is dark and gripping, sure to reel audiences in from the first minute. “It makes you think,” Minella adds. “I think this is a good opportunity for people to see emotionally deep theatre.”